This easy-to-use city guide helps you to unearth Tbilisi’s treasures. Organised around a series of leisurely walking tours and some further afield excursions, you will get in-depth information on all buildings, statues, parks, markets, places of worship and any other point of interest, researched through personal visits and by drawing on the expertise of locals. Every step of the way, uncluttered easy-to-follow maps guide you around the city.
Tbilisi has an irresistible charm that is neither European nor Asian, but rather a unique blend of cultural influences concocted over centuries of turbulent history. Its setting is nothing short of dramatic, arrayed along the banks of the swiftly-flowing Mtkvari river, under the brooding battlements of Narikala fortress and the green slopes of Mtatsminda Park. In the old town, houses crowd the higgledy-piggledy alleyways, their ornate balconies jutting out precariously in varying degrees of decay. Centuries of religious tolerance becomes apparent when you stumble upon ancient churches, mosques, synagogues and even a Zoroastrian fire temple. Masseurs in sulphur bathhouses continue to scrub and pummel away, as they have done for centuries. Grand buildings line nineteenth-century boulevards, and everywhere the urban sprawl is broken up by leafy parks providing tired tourists with the chance to rest their weary feet. Neighbourhood bakeries and restaurants churn out endless supplies of khachapuri and khinkali, while cellars showcase their vintage Georgian wines.
The city has come so far since Soviet times, and is still not overrun with tourists. So, now’s the perfect time to visit. This book will be your companion as you explore the city, and is organised in readily digestible chunks:
- Getting to know Tbilisi gives a brief history of the city and examines its history, geography and demographics.
- Part 1 navigates north from Freedom Square and takes a walk up Tbilisi’s grand thoroughfare, Rustaveli Avenue.
- Part 2 wanders west of the Mtkvari river and explores the winding alleyways and ancient churches of Tbilisi’s historical heart.
- Part 3 steps south from Gorgasali Square to experience sulphur baths, hidden waterfalls and the lofty battlements of Narikala fortress.
- Part 4 crosses the river to the experience the atmospheric nineteenth-century streets of the east bank.
- Part 5 goes further afield on a day trip from Tbilisi, to see the UNESCO World Heritage sights of Mtskheta, and Gori, the birthplace of Stalin.
- Preparing for your visit gives you all the essential practical information needed to make your trip plain sailing.